School Board OKs #036;102M budget

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

The ball is in Suffolk City Council’s court now to approve the school system’s $102.4 million operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year, an almost 10 percent increase over current expenditures.

On Thursday night, Suffolk School Board members unanimously approved the budget, which features $2.9 million to fund salary increases. New hires, 53, amount to $2.2 million of the new budget.

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Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Milton R. Liverman maintained his commitment to an average five percent salary increase for employees – despite the grim picture facing school divisions and other state-funded entities statewide.

Liverman told board members last month that the budget was designed without anticipating any state support for pay raises. Considering the school’s limitations, he added last night that the 2003-2004 financial plan &uot;does not provide for a lot of new initiatives.&uot; The majority of the budget increases are directly related to growth citywide. Personnel represents 80 percent of the operating budget.

City Council is being asked to fund $2.8 million in new money for the schools, a 9.9 percent increase in local money, which would put the local contribution at $31.2 million. More than $4 million in department requests were eliminated from the budget to keep the increase below 10 percent, according to a previous report by Suffolk Schools Executive Director Michael Brinkley.

A breakdown of overall expenditures shows that state revenues will pay for 47.7 percent; the locality, 30.5 percent; state sales tax, 9.2 percent; federal, 9.7 percent, and another 2.9 percent of local funds were earmarked. Next to instruction, operations and maintenance is the second highest funding level consuming 8.7 percent of the budget. Transportation will cost the schools $6.5 million; food service, $4.6 million; and $3 million is designated for school administration.

Final adoption of the budget by City Council is expected by May 23.

In other matters heard by the board, Liverman reported that all of Suffolk’s schools have received accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. He explained that the award is &uot;significant&uot; because multiple standards were met. Suffolk had traditionally only sought this endorsement for the middle and high schools, but added the elementary schools this time around. Liverman pointed out that the &uot;standards are more stringent than what is required by the state.&uot;